Friday, August 26, 2016

Happy Days.

Everybody knows America used to be great -- greater than it is now, that is, but I wonder when that was and whether everyone would pick the same time of maximum greatness if asked. Nobody seems to be asking.  I suspect we'd get a bunch of different answers though and I suspect many would refuse to answer, again for a variety of reasons.

For me, of course it would be the years that were greatest for me and that means when I had few worries and everything was new and exciting and simple. That would be around 1955 when I got a new Bike for Christmas and never watched that boring evening news with boring people like Walter Kronkite. All was right with that best of all possible worlds.

Yes, of course my dad had been bitching about the Army-McCarthy hearings he watched on our 10" big screen Admiral TV in Black and White. But really, who cared if Communists had taken over the government and all the movies and half the TV was secretly infused with Communist propaganda when the new Mickey Mouse Club was on the air, Annette's All American bosoms and all. If she was trying to induce us all to unite and cast off our chains, I didn't notice.  Things were great.

It has to have been one of Donald's favorite times too, since he's only a year younger than I am,  My dad didn't complain about the 90 something percent top tax bracket, at least not then. Did old man Trump?  Somehow both dads prospered anyway as did the nation as a whole. In fact GDP has been almost independent of that number since the end of WWII when America was pretty much great by anyone's standards except for the Japanese and Germans. The war was pretty much successful and we pulled it off without the help of a massive, recession building  tax cut for the wealthy like W did.  Long about the time I turned 18 or so, the greatness was a lot harder to see, and outside of the moon missions, I think we were rather mediocre in fact. Face it, most of the world thought we were assholes.

I do remember that the fathers of many of my friends as a kid thought the peak of greatness was a lot earlier at about 1900 or so and I used to agree until I learned about the Panic of October 1907 and of course WWI and the world flu pandemic and the huge race riots and lynchings and the horrible conditions of immigrants bringing disease and crime and those women who insisted on voting.  It certainly wasn't great during Prohibition when just like today, you got shot when you went out on the street as Donald says.  I'm tempted to think it's pretty much a personal thing - greatness.

No matter what you're time of greatness was, it's in the past, isn't it and that means we have to look backwards to find it again, particularly if we don't have more mansions than Henry VIII or a series of inappropriately young trophy wives and jet planes  like someone I won't mention.  The future is always scary and the past has a known outcome, so as soon as I have that time machine perfected, I'm going to go back and buy me a knucklehead Harley and maybe a 56 Chevy Chevy Bel-Aire sport Coupe or what the hell, a 57 Vette and wouldn't worry about the Bomb because I would know it wouldn't happen. Nobody even had to worry about making a living back then did they?

Chasing Doomsday

Mornings like this I sit with a cup of coffee watching the crawl on Bloomberg TV as my finances improve - or not. This morning I checked their website to see what Secretary Yellin had to say about the likelihood of raising rates this year and in the corner was one of those ubiquitous ads about some "expert"  "Breaking his silence" and how I'll never believe what he has to say about just how bad the US economy is.  They're right, I won't believe it any more than I have believed any of the nonsense about impending doom since the bull market began after W went back to Texas and Obummer took office. I know many who missed out on it because of "experts."  Are they now out campaigning for Trump or are they simply out. 

"We are now facing serious economic problems in the United States.
And it's about to get much, much worse.
The evidence is piling up all around us...
In recent months, we've seen nearly $8 trillion disappear from world stock markets... and a whopping 70% of investors lose money in 2015."

Last time I checked this is the second half of 2016 and the markets have been setting highs.  Growth in GDP is very modest compared with India and China but unemployment is under 5%, but hey, some people avidly watch Fox News and buy books from "experts" who are selling investment strategies based on impending doom. Same guys who were telling us to to buy gold at $2000 as a hedge against the coming disaster and right before that market collapsed -- but hurry!  Do it soon!

Remember that guy on TV in 2006 who was telling you to borrow 125% of the value of you home to "jump on a hot stock?"   But do it now before it's too late and the Liberals shut us down. Come to think of it one Mr. Trump thought that would be a good year to start peddling mortgages. What a genius!

“In light of the continued solid performance of the labor market and our outlook for economic activity and inflation, I believe the case for an increase in the federal funds rate has strengthened in recent months,”

Said Chairwoman Yellin this morning, but what does she know? She's not even selling advice and advice is worth what you pay for it, right?  No you can't trust the government in this modern age when NOAA and NASA fake all their climate data and every university fakes their research just to harm the coal industry and kill jobs. Besides the Experts are breaking their silence. There is no drought in California -- and buy now before "they" take the site down! Follow the experts. The end is upon us.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Home on the Range With Rush

I hate to sound like one of those people who see patterns where there aren't any, but I've noticed that a battle of bullshit seems to be developing between Rush and Donald J.  Donny is raving away at the Crooked Clinton Foundation this morning, but Rush is just dying to get some attention by telling us that
'' The US Department of Agriculture is holding summits to promote the role of lesbian farmers as a part of its 'Rural Pride' campaign."
After they put all the conservative farmers in those FEMA camps, those vast areas of "real" America will be taken over by Lesbians and the second amendment will die.  I'm not making this up. Millions of Americans listen to this and believe it, just as millions of Americans listen to Donald tinyfingers scream about the Clinton Foundation and don't bother to ask why there's no Trump foundation. Mr. Gigabucks apparently gives less to charity than I do, is prone to keep the money he raises for others, like veterans and when pressed by the Governor of Louisiana to contribute something for storm relief, he gives money to a gay-bashing pesudochurch.

Is there any coming back from this level of insanity, or should we just give up and embrace the horror?  Any country that tolerates these men has no future.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Back in the USSA

Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out
They leave the West behind
And Moscow girls make me sing and shout
That Georgia's always on my mind

-The Beatles-

OK, let me get this right: Russia is in league with Iran against ISIS and Iran is letting Russia use their air bases.  Trump wants to abandon NATO and assist Russia in the Middle East. Russia is in favor of supporting Al Assad against the Rebels we've been trying to support. That would make us not only an ally of Russia, but of Iran and of Bashar Hafez al-Assad, the bloody tyrant.  Yep, the man sure can make deals!

That would make us an enemy of NATO, whom Trump wants to abandon and put us in violation of our long standing treaties, which are, as I should remind the Trumptsters, the law. Yep, break the law, abandon Europe to the Russians, and get in bed with Iran and Syria.  Should we mention that Trump wants more nukes in the hands of Middle Eastern countries?  And why not? Anything to make America great again and defeat Crooked Hillary.

So we have a "conservative" candidate that wan't to be allies with Russia and has asked for (and received) help from Russia in trashing his opponents.  A man whose campaign manager is under investigation by the Ukrainian anti-corruption commission for accepting money from Russia and who has been a registered agent for Russia in the US as confirmed by a former US Ambassador to Russia ---- and Americans want to vote for him!

I guess the Red scare is over and America would be great if only we became part of a new recrudescence of the Soviet Union, an empirial Plutocracy run by a dictator and a mob of multi-bilionaire mobsters who ship their Rubles abroad to be laundered by Donald J. Trump. This can't be the planet I was born on

Here Comes Rudy!

You used to have to try to portray our current political civil war as the comic opera it is.  You used to need some comedic talent, but like one of those Tesla or Google cars, it's all on autopilot now. All those political cynicism shows on late night TV can go on hiatus.

I don't need to talk about Donald, wind him up and he spews twisted comedy without any help from writers and in fact he winds himself up, But listen to Rudy Giuliani, who seems to have completely lost touch with reality, screeching like he's had a Meth overdose:

 "Under those eight years, before Obama came along, we didn't have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States. They all started when Clinton and Obama got into office,"

 Of course not and if you like I'll forget the career you've made out of having been in town when the World Trade Center was blown up.  If we can't blame your memory loss on some neurodegenerative disease perhaps we can ask you to tattoo LIAR on your forehead like the mark of Caine or to hang a sign around your neck so we can see you coming and cover our ears.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Which Of These Things Is Not Like The Other?

A large problem with activist groups is the resistance to information that's not part of the group's canon, coming from outside the group or that which casts doubt on its inerrancy. Maintenance of the group and its authority requires it and the integrity of the group often replaces the mission around which it formed. In the wider universe of people who would like to reform gun control laws in the interest of public safety there are sub-groups who push one reform over others, or one perceived kind of firearm over others and who often will brook no questions or challenges and will dismiss information or statistics or definitions by responding with hyperbolic accusations, maledictions and excommunications.

Suggest that a semi-automatic pistol can have the same firepower as a civilian version of a military assault rifle and you will be perceived and dismissed as a heretic, and no discussion of concealability will be permitted.  I say this from personal experience. Indeed one can carry two pistols with 30 round magazines and exceed the firepower of one bulky rifle.  Of course if you intend to shoot up a room, either weapon will do the same job, but you're either a handgun opponent of an "assault rifle" hater and so you can't cooperate and you won't learn and you can't discuss it. How many causes fail for lack of cooperation between similar or even identical interests?

I've worn myself out offering irrefutable evidence that that military looking thing you can buy at Walmart is not military and doesn't work like the military version, but if your group says it's a machine gun, they will go on arguing -- insisting that it is one no matter what. The important metric is not veracity, but the propagation of rage and fear, the success of the group and its leaders.

Gas or recoil operated machine guns for all practical intents are illegal for the general public.  Gatling guns are not.  Coming from the Civil War era, the Gatling gun, with its rotating barrels is a design still very much used by the military in airborne applications.  Unlike an autoloader or a double action revolver which goes bang for every trigger pull and unlike a true machine gun that keeps firing as long as you keep the trigger pulled, the rotary barrel Gatling gun fires thousands of rounds per minute.  It literally screams.  They are legal and yet the noise of people lying about "assault rifles" and their extra deadly "bullets" drowns out the muttering about motorized rotary barrel Megadeath machines.

There already is a two barreled, crank operated weapon available although I'veXM556 motorized, handheld Gatling gun is a nightmare. It can be chain fed, giving it almost limitless firepower and versions can put out something like 2000, to 4000 rounds per minute.  30 or more rounds IN ONE SECOND!  You're not going to be hearing about it and why? because the more fervent the anti-gun activist the less informed and the more resistant to learning anything. "We already know it all so go away"
yet to see one, but the

Yes, the XM556 needs an outside source of power, but hate finds a way. How soon before it finds a way to a venue near you?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Fresh off the Boat

First thing again this morning I listen to Rebecca Negron telling us she's going to "punish" Washington for keeping the police from arresting "criminal aliens," something she is essentially making up.  You'll remember  my saying she's the one appearing in pictures of her holding a shotgun and pledging to murder anyone getting off a boat - except for Cubans, of course. I have to wonder at the way she pronounces her Spanish name: NEG-ron. Was it once Negrón?  Did her family came from Cuba, getting green cards and asylum seeker benefits?  She's not talking.

But hey, this is America, land of second chances for me and no first chance for you.

It's also the America of fake issues and rabble-rousing and explaining away our sins while inventing them for others. Most of our campaigns center on fake issues and outright lies because sticking to the truth can be an insurmountable challenge.  It's the America of thinly veiled assassination threats, threats of insurrection and threats of  lynch mobs stringing up immigrants. It's the America that needs to be made great again through barbarism and greed and special privileges and secret deals and maybe even an armed uprising and assassination.

And there's no one to blame but you.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Hate Finds a Way

looking at the latest crop of Hillaryhate TV commercials seems like a reprise of all those 15th and 16th century paintings I saw in Europe as a kid, the Jews with their twisted faces, mocking Jesus. Hard not to remember those Nazi propaganda pictures too, hook-nosed rats spreading disease across Europe. Descendants of African slaves in the US have  their own gallery full of obscene stereotypes, but Chinese, Japanese, Hispanics and American Indians have seen their unfair share as well.  Of course "political correctness:" that Republican dysphemism for common decency, has made the ugly cartoons hard to sell but it's a new day now that the GOP beast has taken life and is stomping all over America on the way to Washington. Do we remember the virtually identical predictions and pronouncements and prognostications and prophecies we got with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama?  Hell no, we're not aware of where the economy is and where it came from and why it failed disastrously. We Don't know what's happenend - we don't want to - we're Republicans.

There is nothing like respect or responsibility or reasonableness visible in the political advertising of 2016. It's nothing new, Obama was the anti-Christ, Mrs. Clinton is a worshiper of Satan and no epithet is too absurd, too extreme or too disgusting to be written on billboards or explained as part of some process of "making America Great." Since Nixon the Crook slithered out of the White House, hate and lies and unscrupulous slander have become the heart and soul and substance of Republican politics and the Republicans have perfected the art of stage victimhood.  Note the way Trump is offended at the "over the top" questions of the Khan family and how easily the vermin who follow him emulate their concern for poor Donald.

"Hillary Clinton belongs in Prison," sneers the shiny made-up face of Rick Kozell, Republican candidate for the 18th congressional district in Florida. "She sold her power to the highest bidder" is the unsubstantiated explanation for that.  The word "Benghazi" creeps subliminally across the bottom of the screen and you can be sure that the delight of the Hillaryhate disciples is so great they won't be aware of it just the way they're not aware of the exoneration that followed endless hearings and investigations. Hate always finds a way to clear the fog of reality.

 Only 90 days now for the encyclopedia of fake Obama prognostications joins the last batch down the tubes and no indications yet of that "double dip" recession or the red flag over the Capitol or any of the other little piles of shit that pass for reality in the Republican mind.  How long can you always be wrong and not start to doubt? Forever, it seems, as the crew crosses out Clinton and writes in Obama and then crosses out Obama and adds Clinton again.  Make America Hate Again! and again, and again. . .

Jesus, hanging on his cross, looks down at the victims of his worshipers and weeps.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Pissing on our grave.

I wish I were a cartoonist.  I have this cartoon in my head and can't get rid of it:  look here at a huge Donald Trump in Arlington National Cemetery, pissing on a soldier's grave.  Maybe one of those graves with a star of David on it or a crescent and star or the
American Atheist Atom or the Buddhist flower. There are some there I don't even recognize, nearly 50 marks of various beliefs.  Lots of people have fought and died for this country, a country whose people are now flirting with sneering, cynical hatred and calling it "greatness." A country that flirts with electing a president who mocks grieving mothers and insults grieving fathers who accuse him of being heartless for wanting to ban his dead son's religion from our nation.

Over the line, his defenders say. Suggesting Trump believes what he says is over the line and besides there's crooked Hillary who after
surviving decades of relentless and fruitless investigation still gets accused of everything up to and including murder. Is there anything to be proud of, anything to value about America that Trump hasn't wiped his ass with?

A man who keeps Hitler's speeches next to his bed, whose ideas about crime and immigration are 30 years behind the facts and who gloats that we're too damned stupid to know?  Collapsible corporations that scam people out of their fortunes, bankruptcies that leave creditors begging, Trump products all made offshore. Suppliers who go unpaid simply because he can get away with it?  No, it doesn't matter than no fact checking organization substantiates Trump's statements, or that the FBI can glibly be dismissed as a Hillary Stooge, or that investigation after investigation fails -- foil-hat Americans don't care about such things and they'll crucify anyone who tries
to tell the truth.

International "humiliation after humiliation" Trump claims without being able to cite one. Border crossings are increasing he says, but they're not. Crime is up but it's not and Obama invaded and annexed the Crimea. International treaties have the force of law, but Trump says he'll ignore them.   A man dies for his country? so fuck him.  he's just a damned Muslim and damn his mother too.

So you're going to vote for him, you think he'll make America great again? Donald Trump is our shame, Let's not make him our crime.  Can't vote for Hillary because you can't see through the lies?  Fine, vote for Gary Johnson, Vote for Bozo the clown, but don't vote for the end of  our greatness. Don't piss on the flag, while you're making kids pledge allegiance to it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Slavery is OK with Lyin' Bill.

Sometimes I just don't know what to say.  Lyin' Bill O'Reilly manages to lie even while telling the truth when he attempts to counter Michelle Obama's poignant statement that the White House was built with slave labor. Isn't it a sign of hope that the black family of a black president now lives there?

Perhaps Lyin' Bill acts the way he does as a reflex rather than as any attempt at reasoned commentary, but can anyone think the fact that slave labor was used on a Federal project is mitigated by the allegedly adequate food and lodgings provided?  Hey Lyin' Bill, what if Fox withheld your pay and says it's OK because they give you a comfortable chair to sit in ( and obviously lots to eat) while you tell lies about just about everything.  What about we throw you into prison for sedition, Lyin' Bill -- I hear the foods not too bad.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Shots fired!

Another shooting incident at a Munich shopping center. 5 people stabbed on a train in Bavaria a few days ago. Terrorist attacks are almost a daily thing in Europe and far, far worse in the Middle East.

But it's because they have stronger leaders, right? Russia has had some big ones but that's because Putin is lawnorder tough and Army Strong, right?   It's because Obama is weak and probably a sympathizer and Hillary would be even weaker as the "facts" about Benghazi show. That's right the Republicans are lawnorder tough and always protect us -- right?

Oops, I mentioned facts - mea culpa. I should have known better. But I can't help myself. I can't control it -- 6% of US terrorist attacks are carried out by Muslims according to the FBI. 7% were from Jewish extremists.  No really I'm trying to stop. . .

There, I've got it under control, but someone just sent me something from some green beret or red underwear or lace panty he-men who say there were in Benghazi and they know - just Know - Hillary was to blame. Funny none of the investigators gave them much credit, but we "just know" they're right because they hate Crooked Hillary. Oh really I'm trying not to remember how the GOP refused to allow increased security funding and to this date have stonewalled it just so they could sing "crooked Hillary" like the little yellow birds they are.

Crooked indeed, not like whatsisname with the child molestation and rape and orgies with underage girls and real estate swindles and fake schools with plagiarized textbooks  and the serial infidelity -- but he's one of us!  He even tells dirty jokes. Sometimes about his own daughter.

Really Hillary is in with wall street, but I'm not sure what that means except somebody paid her a lot of money to talk once. But not Like the Donald the man of the people with his 3 billion.  I've given more to charity then he has but that just proves he cares about the working people he stiffs on their paychecks and the small business he bankrupts by not paying his bills. He's gonna make us great and by great I mean great big losers.

Oh god, it's hopeless  Oh, I feel it coming . . . Obama the Weak has deported more illegals than any Republican -- aaagh our murder rate is lower than during Lawnorder Reagan's reign of glory.  Somebody stop me!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Meanwhile back in the real world.

One of the problems with American discourse having moved to the Internet and the cable news networks is that we rush to the circus ring making the most noise,  and somehow there aren't enough rings to cover all the acts, even the most important.  Donald Trump  sits on the news like some fat, clucking chicken. The rest of the world has become a sideshow.

It's struck many people that of late the the guy in boots and top hat is getting all the attention, filling his ring with clown acts and crude insult comedy. A quashed rebellion in Turkey in which tens of thousands have been arrested in government and in the military was soon drowned out, and although many publications of late are quietly inquiring as to the security of US forces at Incirlik Air Base , we're arguing over a poorly written and partially plagiarized speech by someone who isn't running for president,

That airbase, with it's stockpile of hydrogen bombs is only protected by the shaky, unstable Turkish military which has now cut off power.  Incirlik is now running on backup generators. Top Turkish officers at the base have been arrested.
Why are such things designed for Armageddon still there? Why are we not asking? How do we trust Turkey to protect a world-destroying arsenal, NATO's largest nuclear weapons cache? How do we deal with Syria and ISIL without that base? Why aren't we talking about it? Why don't we get more than bravado and braggadocio and "tough guy"  posturing about Mexican walls and guns and what kind of life matters most?

It's because all our attention is directed elsewhere by the ringmasters and the clowns. For half a year it's been all about Trump, all about Benghazi, all about Bernie, all about bozos hurling insults and accusations at each other.

"When the whistle blows, everybody goes" Jonathan Winters used to say. Would we even hear it with all the background noise?

Miami Justice

Maybe the "hands up - Don't shoot" touring company should have waited to use that chant a bit longer, because the city of North Miami, Florida has acted out the scenario without needing to force anything to fit.

In what seems a perfect example of  "shoot first and refuse to answer questions later"  two officers with rifles shot an unarmed, co-operative behavioral therapist from an assisted living facility who was trying to protect and retrieve an autistic resident who had run out into the street. His concern, as evidenced in the cell phone video was to protect the severely impaired autistic man in his care from the police who showed up armed for combat because a report of a "man with a gun."

While lying on the ground, hands in the air and trying to explain to the cops what was going on and that his patient was holding a toy truck, one of them let off a three round salvo, hitting Charles Kinsey, a black man.  Asking the officer why he had just shot him (in the leg) the answer was "I don't know."

I don't know either.  I don't know why an unarmed man with his hands in view and lying on the ground defenseless would be shot by any competent police officer. Is it that he was never trained to keep his finger off the damned trigger or that he's a cringing paranoid coward? It doesn't matter, to those that frame matters in our country for us, he must only have done this because he was a racist.  Watch the video and you'll be as puzzled as I am and the man filming it was. "Why they shoot the black boy?" is heard on the recording?

Damned if I know, but we haven't heard the last of this, nor should we.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

My Little Phony

It's so easy to poke fun at the Republicans for trying to make Melaniagate evaporate without a trace, whether it's quoting My Little Pony or just insisting it's a meaningless coincidence and means nothing. Nixon proved that denial works and even though iron-clad proof of his lies and misdeeds has been established, to the Republican Zombies, it's still all the doing of "the liberal press."

Still, to be fair, essays are appearing making lazy Mrs. Trump's last minute bit of homework a race issue and an illustration of "white privilege." Does this make the whole thing as much of an illustration of universal bias and dishonesty as this: another of the endless Republican demonstrations of moronic mendacity?   Yes, yes, yes, we've all heard it. You don't see the world as it is, but as we are.

Yes, yes, yes, Trump supporters and many other republicans are delusional, demented, deranged and dishonest, but please, lets not persuade ourselves that it makes us unimpeachable or infallible or even honest.

Her speech was a cheap amateurish fraud, not an illustration of privilege, white or money-green. It doesn't mean white people are generically anything or that we need sensible, but inchoate gun control or that we need a world without banks or police or any of the other axes we rush to grind on every turning wheel.  Cheap and amateurish and typical of the student in over her head, grasping at platitudes and convinced that no one else knows much more than she does.

She's not running for president. Let's not be distracted, let's not gloat. We have a long way to go and stupid never sleeps.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

My Life As A Dog.

Species dysphoria is a bitter, hopeless condition. No matter how much I know that my inner species doesn't match my outer appearance, I just can't live life as a dog. Not with two legs and no one is going to let me use any toilet or walk into a bar without a species specific birth certificate.  How then can I separate myself from that most hateful of species, the most dishonest, the most destructive, the least rational? Surgery is out of the question.

The condition is usually at it's most burdensome in election seasons like this one where the hated faces appear before us on the TV and although you can change channels or cut the audio or record and speed through them some of it gets through.

Take the ad I just now saw, telling you to help Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton and her lies. It's financed by a PAC with a lot of money behind it and it accuses Mrs. Clinton of taking money from Billionaires. What species of animal or vegetable will fail to see the irony of denouncing taking money from the rich and advising you to give it to the already  rich?  That's right, Humans.  So eager will you be, you bipedal fool, to jump on the rage wagon, the marching band of bullshit, that you won't ask or even accept evidence as to the alleged lying and murdering and perhaps necromancy and you won't entertain the endless proofs of Crooked Donald's lying, cheating, fraud, plagiarism, misogyny or crooked business dealings much less the strong evidence of child abuse and rape.

The guy with the 3 billion will sympathize with your concern, Mr. Laid off worker, Mr. lost it all at Atlantic city. He knows your problems, Mr. High School Dropout. Even my dog won't stay in the room when that pumpkin face appears on the screen, but you reach for your wallet.  Yes, your farm may have failed because you can't get credit, but Donald, who wants to buy it for nothing to put up a condo that is planned to go bust after he gets your deposit -- but Donald, he's your man and your man needs your money because he's just got so much of it he doesn't need it. That makes sense to you, you two-legged imbecile?

I've watched those TV  Christ - O - Crooks tell the poorest Americans to send them money because God will make them rich just like Reverend Barnum. Just like Donald Trump. You probably believe it too, you hopeless idiot, but the Democratic opponent? She made money so she must be a crook. She got paid to give a speech to rich money managers so she must know nothing about money.

Trump? People paid him to teach them how and he screwed them using plagiarized text books and fraudulent advertising. The opponent went to the best schools, Trump stole from the poor and kept every dime. And you just love it, you spawn of monkeys. Well I'm not one of you. I renounce you, I condemn you. I execrate you with all the malediction a barking dog like me can muster.  Four legs good, two legs bad and don't you dare call me human, or I'll bite you.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Leviathan

Baton Rouge. A few days ago, a word association test would have had me responding with Janis, but now it's more likely to be murder, cops, revenge and war: that Bellum omnium contra omnes Thomas Hobbes warned us about: that war of all against all.  It's a small and lopsided war. It's a big war about big principles. It's a crazy war with revenge killings and reprisals on one side and an apparently trigger-happy paranoia on the other side, but I'm trying to be careful of tendentious oversimplifications. Both sides real have grievances and there are a lot more guns than innocence in America. It's complicated and reality always is.

But it's Hobbes' observation about the "state of nature," so reminiscent of the kind of Libertarian paradise half our country seems to be longing for, that gets my attention: that repugnance for government, for authority -- that insistence that any law limits our freedom. Without that authority we have no civilization, no culture, no industry but a climate of fear and a war of all against all, said Hobbes in The Leviathan.

As it is in Baton Rouge, so is it in America. Everyone in everyone's face and at each others' throats. Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. You've heard those words many times.  Against our ruin we create the buttresses of a social contract, a moral, a civil authority and give up a part of our natural liberty that we can enjoy enough security to avoid chaos and enjoy our freedom without undue fear.. We cede some power and make it legitimate and authorize it for our own good. We create laws and we authorize the enforcement of those laws. That's an oversimplification of course but although it informs our American founding documents, that social contract is being portrayed as the cause of our ills rather than the failure of implementing that contract or defining the laws to benefit all rather than some. Some of us believe that racism will always make justice impossible and therefore authority is always to be resisted and with violence.

Is Libertarianism the gateway to Liberty?  I think Hobbes says otherwise and although we, in theory, have the power to change and improve that contract and to reform the way it's enforced, we seem for the moment at least to prefer to shoot it out in the streets and to remember when we shot it out on the battlefield 150 years ago with longing. On the TV,  today's real world, the war drums beat all day and all night, the bullets fly and the blood runs red in Baton Rouge. Police are the enemy, government is the enemy, guns are the enemy, gun control is the enemy. We're all the enemy.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Lying like a Fox

Lyin' Bill O'Reilly may have to share his liar's title with Lyin' Wayne, the former Fox News "Terrorism expert"  may have been a perfect fit for the Fox Crew of liars and frauds, failed Republican candidates and propagandists for hire, but he got caught. He fraudulently claimed to have been a Special Operations Officer for the CIA when at the time he actually was working as was a nightclub doorman, mortgage broker, manager of a rent-by-the-hour hot tub business, bookie, and defensive back for the National Football League’s New Orleans Saints.  He'll have 33 months to think about it.

“Wayne Simmons is a fraud. Simmons has no military or intelligence background, or any skills relevant to the positions he attained through his fraud,” said Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III also tacked on three years of supervised release following his sentence. Judge Ellis also required that he surrender two firearms, pay $176,000 in criminal proceeds, and pay restitution. He joins a lost of Fox Friends who couldn't get a job as a school janitor.  But even though Neill Cavuto apologized for allowing Lyin' Wayne on his show,  Fox Folk, like Trumpsters won't notice or care as long as they continue to supply them with the outrage they need to make their miserable and nasty lives seem justified.

Friday, July 15, 2016

French Lives Matter

The death toll is way over 80 now, not quite up to the 130 killed last November but far worse than the January 2015 killing of 11 that had us writing je suis Charlie although we weren't much like and didn't much like Charlie and still don't.

Are we Nice now?  No, but all we talk about is the danger of being shot by one or more of the 200 million or more guns in private hands in the USA.  We've been spared attacks by foreign terrorists on that scale since 2001 when George W was keeping us safe with his "strength."  Obama is weak, of course. We've been told that since the beginning of his presidency. He's weak, and "he will be tested" and "we will be attacked."   Another one of those dire predictions we believe despite their regular failure to come true.

Will we be Nice now or will this one fail to dominate the news with the Cleveland cesspool about to open?  Do French lives matter enough to merit the full mourning, healing and closure seeking news cycle?  Will I be seeing more of those smug posters and posts and cartoons about how hypocritical and racist we are for interfering with a certain publicity campaign I'm tired of talking about? French lives matter - now there I've gone and said it.

But we need to and we certainly will search for someone to blame and Obama is already on the short list. It will be hard to blame lax gun laws in France with its level of gun control that will never be accepted in the US and that this was done with a truck will challenge us to keep the talk entirely about guns, much less "assault" weapons.  Assault truck bans are hard to propose with a straight face.

Will anyone make the case for our current administration's relative success in keeping ISIS attacks to a bare minimum when compared to all those deaths in Europe? Well, I doubt it and this awful story will be hard to fit into the formulaic assault that is our presidential campaign.  Besides there's Pokemon Go.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Pounds and Pence

Trump has “never forgotten or forsaken the people who work with their hands,” trumpets Indiana Governor Mike Pence, hoping to advance to more power like some eager Red Guard, little red book waver from the 70's or a North Korean trying to exhibit such unrestrained enthusiasm for the Beloved Leader that he won't be shot.

Put me in coach! I wanna be the next Dan Quayle!

But yeah, it could be worse and it might well be. We don't really know who Trumplestiltskin will actually choose and it might yet be that most reprehensible and hypocritical of creatures, Newt Gingrich.  It could be anyone and after all, he said he likes to be unpredictable. He is that indeed, and predictably so.

Donald of course is one of those corporations that make money by stiffing their suppliers, going from one to another as he's cut off for non-payment or paying 80% after 120 days and telling you to sue him and hoping you'll just go bankrupt. I used to have customers like that and I remember people who screw people with their checkbooks as part of their business plan.

He'll need a mouthpiece like Pence to make us forget his scams and deceptions, but almost any Republican is an expert in creating false realities in which Newt had the moral high ground for trying to unseat Clinton while actually engaged in coitus with a young lady, not his wife.

So sure, Trump never forgets the little guy. He'd be a little guy himself if he didn't have the public to bilk, cheat and screw. He doesn't have to admit it though, or apologize or repay. He'll just appoint people to define it away. We won't remember. We never do.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Then I Said In My Heart, That This Also Is Vanity

Perhaps nothing to do with the way we think is more demonstrated than the fact that we humans are nothing like rational beings. We're beings who use all sorts of gymnastics to justify our opinions and we fight strongly against contradiction or simply ignore it as suits our equilibrium, our party affiliation, our inherited creeds or opinions we associate with our peers. The mechanics of cognitive dissonance are well described and illustrated, but the stronger the opinion, the more intransigent, the more these mechanics are ignored by the factually challenged.
"Instead of acknowledging an error in judgement, people tend to reformulate their views in a new way that justifies their old opinions. " Writes Leon Festinger.  It's certainly been demonstrated.
Do people moderate their views when presented with overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Not necessarily, writes Matthew Syed in today's BBC News Magazine.  He concludes, as did Festinger when he coined the term nearly 50 years ago, that experiments demonstrate that
"We use a series of post hoc manoeuvres to reframe anything inconvenient to our original position. We question the probity of the evidence, or the credentials of the people who discovered it, or their motives, or whatever. The more information that emerges to challenge our perspective, the more creatively we search for new justifications, and the more entrenched we become in our prior view." 
Experimental confirmation of this is copious and other evidence such as a study by some years ago showing that people who read political books never reach across the divide, sticking with those that confirm a certain mindset.

"Our reasoning, or at least that what we offer as the product of reasoning is regulated by emotion, not by dispassionate analysis and its goal is to minimize threats to the self"  Writes Mario Livio and the rampant and irreconcilable differences in opinion concerning most aspects of American life would seem to make it irrefutable. Nobody changes their mind, or at least very rarely. You'll see it at the macro and micro ends of  the scale of things. Listen to Joe Biden tell us there are more deadly shootings because "the bullets are getting bigger" when the opposite is true although part of  a fear raising agenda. To say otherwise means accepting you were wrong, your mentors are wrong and your argument is less than impeccable. So we go on restating the problem as though our pet solution were attached to it and ours alone.

But of course the size of bullets is less relevant than other factors, but to address that, to offer more rigorous analysis of a real problem risks fracking a fragile code, a rickety dogma that can raise the fear of an ontological crisis. "Who am I if all my axioms are false?"  Our defenses are sometimes  Manic, We respond with a flurry of  arguments as though to be a moving target. We respond with laughter or mockery or denunciation. I'm tempted to call up the ghost of Melanie Klein and her Manic Defense in which we downplay and minimize the threat with feelings of control, triumph and contempt. Is that what we hear from conservatives as their maxims demonstrate their fragile origins?  Perhaps I'm overreaching. This wasn't meant to be a critique of  adept but sophistical refutations of fact. It's about the sloppy street versions that sloppy street people adhere to often with violence as a response to perceived offense.

This triumphant and contemptuous banner was offered recently on the Internet and to some people it explains away a frequent criticism of the Black Lives Matter organization. It is of course an attempt at an argument by analogy using an incomplete or broken analogy. The disinterested might observe that not only is the premise that the universality of the specific argument is not an attack on its validity but rather its foundation. To say that only black lives matter is not a moral position. Universality gives it a basis. And of course our theoretical outside and dispassionate observer would inevitably notice that recognition of the universal need for food would result in those with it being required to share it, and not to withhold it. Humanists of course, by asserting universal human rights, are not denying justice to anyone nor by their belief supporting injustice. It's being perceived as an attack only because it attacks the unspoken premise that "only our group matters" Because it equates the group and only the group with working for justice.

 If saying "all lives matter" does not rectify injustice, neither does "black lives matter." Neither does chanting "hands up."  There is no refutation. Neither offers a solution anyway.  It's really not an argument but an attempt to explain contradiction by reformulating the opinion, and doing a really bad job of it. Would black lives matter if no others did? What is a "black life?" Teacher is asking, why isn't your hand up?

But you'll see that as true of false depending not on my argument or theirs but as a result of your political conditioning, group identification, propensity to feel guilt or indeed the need to feel it.  Is the cop innocent or guilty? You knew that before the trigger was pulled. How would you feel if innocence or guilt could be proved beyond a shadow of a doubt?  Would you doubt anyway would you scoff triumphantly at the evidence or launch into an excoriation of the NRA?

That our aversion to loss far outweighs the attractiveness of gain is well demonstrated. Face it, you don't want to be proven wrong which means you don't want to learn, which means you're just another dumb human ape, like all of us. You will defend the dumb argument, appending all kinds of hypothetical sophistry to it. I'll praise or smugly deny according to my a priori attitudes and I will fight till the end.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

From High Chair to I-Chair.

None of this will surprise you if you've read my libertarian drivel before, but safety is going to be the end of us as a free nation.  Well, not the concept of safety, but that power to  demand it arrogated by a corporate oligarchy and the forced paternalism it  profits from.  Teach your kids to cross the street?  That's criminal - just forbid them, to or better: make it impossible.

With all action there is risk so why allow action?  With all freedom there is risk but with absolute isolation from risk there is absolutely no freedom.  The urge to take the steering wheel away from us and by that to take private cars and the new birth of freedom they brought -- to take that away from us continues to increase even as intimations of the failures of such technology begin to appear. Idiot proof technology becomes  the design goal rather than freedom or mobility and the dependent, the timid, the incompetent and unable become the new 21st century Eloi, born to consume and raised only for the profit of others.  It's been coming for a while. Want to reduce this trend to absurdity?  Well you saw the Matrix too.

We need more technology, not less, says Computer World Magazine.  More technology will save more lives and we need to be more aggressive in mandating it. Even if one life is saved, it justifies turning yours and mine into a Kafka story and a very lucrative story for Google and Apple and the rest.  The life you save may not be much of one.

Yes, to a computer expert, all problems need more computers to fix them, but citing an alleged increase in car accidents of late allows them to demand driverless cars as the only solution to a multitude of changing conditions that are affected by things not mentioned.

And so of course highway safety figures suddenly begins to look worse after 50 years of improvements. because they need to look worse to support a growing industry and so they do.  And so as we panic and babble about it being too dangerous to drive: as we begin to see the fear build, we are steered toward the one and only available and necessary solution and that's the Google Car.  Any other approaches are, of course heresy and we will have to think of an appropriate bogeyman to associate you with.  No, actually you can't win and the only solution available to anything will be that of  the hermetic bubble you live in and must remain in for the rest of your life.

Google because we aren't yet all peons and serfs on the Google estate. Of course there  actually has been an apparent increase in distracted driving, what with the 12 second attention span of Millennials who are mostly interested in sitting someplace with WiFi and wall to wall video games where they can text and check dating services and shop and text again and damn if they aren't doing just that already. At least it seems so in the short term. Short term trends always extend indefinitely into the future when needed to scare us.. We know this, or at least I assume we do since we always, always, always act that way, unless things are getting better and we have to deny it because we're selling fear.

But yes, the millennials.  They don't seem to like cars much since they interfere with that great world of online interpersonal relationships and shopping and actually require a measurable attention span. You see them on bicycles and motorcycles and skateboards, sitting at a desk or walking down the street playing with their devices, but that can't be helped. It's not even profitable to make people stop it since childishness is the backbone of sales and Industry needs to cultivate the spending  of the new flock of sheep.  So we can only opt for robot cars or Uber, at least until it's no longer necessary actually to go anywhere after you buy that Google Cubicle and get plugged in to the Google matrix.

"We need more Google and Tesla" say the editors.  I think we need a "Tune Out, Turn Off, Go Outside"  revolution or perhaps we need to revisit a previous revolution having much to do with imposing government without consent.  Were we designed to be a government by safety experts, equipment lobbyists?  If that history doesn't exist, it will soon enough. Meanwhile it's dangerous to walk - buy an i-Chair!

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Star Light, Star Bright

"Fluch ist auch ein Segen, Nacht ist auch eine Sonne,"
 -Friedrich Nietzsche- Also Sprach Zarathustra 

 One of the difficulties in searching for exoplanets is seeing the minuscule light reflected from a planet against the massive glare of a star. It's the same thing with politics, only in reverse. The dim flicker of the FBI's decision that Mrs. Clinton's email problem didn't rise to the level of justifying prosecution, no doubt tempered by the observation that George Bush's Secretary of State, General Colin Powell, did the same thing, somehow seems still to be outshining the grave damage done to the world by that administration and the consequences we're still struggling with.

 But of course you don't campaign with the facts you actually have, you campaign with the facts you pretend you have and one still hears breathless talk of treason and espionage from the Trump campaign. It creates a sort of fake light that masks the idiocies still so gallantly streaming from those puckered lips. It's not easy though.

 Today's Trumpet blast from the golden-haired boy is that  more dictators like Saddam Hussein  "who knew how to deal with terrorists.*

That's an excellent observation at a time when the motivation for attacking the US is fueled by the fact that we've interfered with democracy and supported vicious tyrants like Saddam Hussein for so long.

What can I say but Shock and Awe?

 A curse is also a blessing, the night is also a sun. Light is dark, dark light and Trump will makes us great.

 * Nerve gas, torture, germ warfare summary executions, conquest and more.

73 to Juno

For those of you who know the International Radiotelegraph  code or Morse as it's popularly known, The letters HI (or more often HIHI)  has for a very long time been shorthand for laughter between telegraphers.  The sequence .... .. sort of sounds like it, don't you think?  Anyway, it's been heard around the world but now also out of this world.

Most of us have heard by now that Spacecraft Juno has entered a Jupiter orbit after years of dancing around the inner planets picking up speed. Not as many know that back in October, 2013 Ham Radio operators around the world participated in a test of one of Juno's radios designed to explore Jupiter's radio spectrum by transmitting the letters HI in slow Morse code as Juno flew past Earth.

Using the 10 meter band, hams tuned to a specific frequency depending on the last letter in their call sign and transmitted HI slowly in synch with the Internet. The test was successful and the signal received from myriad Earthbound transmitters, most no more powerful than 100 Watts, at a distance of over 23,000 miles.

Of course Hams have been talking to the International Space Station for years, but somehow this felt more dramatic even though there was no one on board to listen or answer.  Anyway 73 Juno, as one says in code:  So long, best wishes.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Safety First

Like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir. I have tried in my way to be free.
-Leonard Cohen-

Here's a nightmare for you: Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty seeking America in a self-driving, air conditioned, Japanese safety capsule with no windows but with blue tooth and WiFi.  

Self driving cars: the urge to produce them mystifies me since being able to drive is an essential and precious freedom in my book. for over a hundred years it's been what America was about and I wonder what has done as much, rightly or wrongly - for personal liberty in America as the automobile.

I understand that the "millennials" are now the center of all marketing targets.  I understand the "millennials" aren't quite as keen on the fading American car culture that defined my own youth. They seem to prefer staring at those little black boxes and perhaps having a self-driving vehicle will allow their undivided attention to games and TV and playlists while shopping and texting their 19,642 Facebook Friends -- who knows?  

But robot cars are being touted as an important safety measure and safety in our country is seen as paramount, with all other rights and privileges pertaining to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness being secondary to the needs of absolute safety and the demands of an entertainment addiction.

You'll gather that  I'm mostly against these things, and I am, but not only for the threat of  restrictive "car control" regulations but for the firm belief that no machine can possibly predict the actions of another driver nor read the pavement to predict adhesion nor even distinguish a paper bag in the road from a cement block -- or someone's cat.   That opinion seems not to be so technophobic after May 7th when a Florida Tesla driver, cruising along on "autopilot" watching Harry Potter, found his Tesla not quite so good at discriminating between an 18 wheeler and a cloud and refrained from taking evasive action or hitting the brakes and putting the driver into another and safer vehicle: his coffin.

But it's "potentially life saving" and as anyone knows, even if one life is saved, all is justified.  Safety First, as everyone knows.

Now autopilots on airplanes are dependable and probably safer than requiring a pilot's concentration of great lengths of time. My former yacht had one and it worked amazingly well but the law and common sense demand that someone be at the helm watching out and able to take over command with the push of a big, red, button.  Cars?  Not so much as the popular phrase suggests.  Sure, pass a law so you can give out a ticket after a couple of carloads worth of people get killed. Great idea.

Of course highway safety has increased steadily, decade after decade and hasn't been much affected by speed limits or stop light cameras or $3000 speeding fines. So why are we ever more demanding of safety gadgets that pretend to be better than a trained and practiced human?   Is the day getting closer when we spend our lives sealed in a safety capsule, experiencing the real world only second hand via virtual reality coming soon?  Probably not. Nothing in history is linear, but that general trend makes reality so much more precious. Exercizing a skill, relying on it for your own safety, Being part of the enviornment first hand is worth it, but everywhere I see black boxes in the hands of people sitting in black boxes with blacked out windows and not looking out of them as they go about their connected days, oblivious.

So maybe this is a good morning to take the Schwinn out for a ride, while I still can ride it without body armor, back up cameras and padded pavement.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Neither a Borrower nor a Lender Be

"I'm self-funding my own campaign."
— Donald Trump on Monday, February 1st, 2016 in a campaign rally in Iowa

I would promise to strangle the next person who told me Trump is the most trustworthy of candidates because "he financed his own campaign" but really, at my age I lack the stamina.  So many necks (red and otherwise) and so little time.

Besides the shaky argument that he'd be honest by being beholden to no contributor, it's not entirely true since not only does he have donors, but much of that self-funding consists of loans by him to his campaign. Whether or not he intends to use donations to repay himself is unclear either from his record or his promises.   But of course he's hardly refraining from asking for money and apparently in mockery of his accusations of dishonesty against his opponent, he's mocking the law too by soliciting donations from officials of foreign governments on their official e-mail accounts.  Investigation?  Sure maybe 75 years from now when they're done with investigating Clinton for treason while ignoring a Republican Secretary of State for doing the same thing.

Has any candidate done more for ratings than Dishonest Donald? We'll probably hear little about this scandal. (Yeah, yeah, Bloomberg is the Liberal press.) Don't look for even the most "Liberal" of the Liberal press to inconvenience that goose in the laying of it's golden eggs.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Energizing the Base

Makes me feel like I'm in grade school again and it's supposed to. Sitting there, hand in the air knowing the expected answer and hoping to be the first to yell out "GUNS!"

Like so many of these Facebook posts, it's meant for the converted and not to convince anyone outside the tribe. To the convinced, it will slip by the normal reaction of skeptical analysis and will immediately toggle the "boy, those gun nuts are just plain stupid" program. and the "if he argues he must be one of them" subroutine. Guns!  Just guns and only guns! is the Pavlovian response, There's only one cause, only one solution in this simplest of all possible worlds.

People are simple and want only simple answers. That's why we have demagogues. That's why we make conclusions from inconclusive date.  We have about twice the automobile fatality rate of the UK and Australia, can we assume the same causes?  Do we dare to add other countries to the same question or have we Gerrymandered the short list?  Are we selecting the data points to fit on the theoretical curve? Where do we fit on a universal danger list?

To those outside that bubble the first reaction might be "Those countries have a different health care system and they don't dump the mentally ill on the streets."  It might also be true that there are fewer members of a large impoverished, addicted. angry and hopeless class trapped inextricably by circumstances, prejudices and a lack of social services, housing, education, opportunity for improvement, medical care and adequate diet: so much fodder for the many hate merchants we have. And of course no one is defining mental illness here.   Even the less perceptive from outside the circle might suspect the band is playing another false equivalence Foxtrot.

Does restricting the view to massacres only, that tiny proportion of the firearms assault spectrum give a biased view? Is the apparent trend real, is it a short aberration on a line with a different long term trend?   Is it the same kind of sophistry as letting the deeds of one man be the paradigm, the "typical." It comes right out of the manipulator's playbook.

Of course those countries have had massacres. We're just inclined to think they don't because the teacher is always right. The UK has had a great many of them: Bloody shootings in Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin bombings in London. Spain, France and other countries in Europe have had massacres in train stations and public areas for years. Algerians, Basque Separatists,  Baader-Meinhoff in Germany and the Red Brigade of Italy; ISIS, al Qaeda, etc.  Mentally ill pilots crash planes, crazy people use truck bombs and poison gas and set fires,shoot up newspaper offices, theaters, night clubs and hotels. It doesn't register with us as being the same thing even though the innocent victims are the same type and degree of being dead.

Worst ever! worst ever! is what you hear and you're not supposed to factor in the fact that the previous worst ever and comparable school shooting was 90 years ago and the century's experience seems more sporadic and episodic than progressive. Everything is getting worse, say people like Trump and the Tea Party con men  and manipulators of all kinds and the respective bases have never been more energized. No one will bother to notice that murders and armed assaults have steadily declined for decades despite the stated erosion of gun laws.

If it comes from our crowd we don't question, we just glad hand, high five and fist bump just the way the Trump Chumps do every time some silly giggling camp follower excuses his latest gaffe.  After all, part of being a cult is to alienate the outsider and prevent him from being heard. It works.

So what if you have constructive ideas, will it ever be heard through the untruths and distortions; red herrings and outright lies?  Over the grins and back slapping? I think not. Semi-automatic will always mean machine gun and they always spray super high velocity big-bore bullets that actually aren't.  The number of murders will always be off by a factor of two. The decline in the number of guns per household will always be explained as bad or irrelevant and the lack of correlation between regulations and effects will always be shouted down. It's always getting worse, it's a disaster, a trainwreck and only Donald or Bernie or Hillary of Ted can save us. Hey teacher - pick me!

And then there's the unsupported assumption that only guns are suitable in a world where most massacres are done with bombs, from Haymarket Square to the Anarchist bombs of the early 20th, to Oklahoma City to New York and Washington DC to Boston. The single cause fallacy supporting the single solution fallacy.

I'm tempted to ask whether gun control advocates are just Onanists or are they really interested in winning over an opposition who doesn't trust any of their reassurances because of all the lies?

Just Island universes are we, or non-intersecting circles in some vast Venn diagram. No one to tell us what we don't want to hear that we can't dismiss with a snark and a bark and some fudged figures as the world ends, not with a bang but a giggle.  Call on me teacher!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Springtime for Trump

Shocking to wake up and find you've lost enough to buy a nice house because some Brit Brats with nose rings and face tattoos want to return to chauvinist nationalism and don't understand or like foreigners or the way the modern world economy works.

Everyone suddenly notices that Herr Drumpf might just defy reason and find himself the American Führer. Drumpf who seemed yesterday, taking time off from campaigning to do some shifty business,  to think running away from the EU means Scottish independence, which it doesn't, or that the
British can now have their own currency, which they always have had, and can protect their borders which they already do. I'm betting that most fifth graders know that.

Everyone has begun to reminisce about how the disaffected Weimar Republic Germans who felt left out and cheated and robbed, turned to the scapegoats offered by the Nazis and decided to Make Germany Great again. I'm starting to be very aware how possible it is that we'll have a president who wants to default on Treasury bonds to "improve" the economy and make American hate again. I see wealthy old men, with their yachts and Ferraris wearing Trump hats and I see tens of millions of less wealthy ones losing their pensions and savings because Trump has the economic expertise of a garden slug, his campaign almost bankrupt like many of his businesses. I see him sitting in the White House screwing the American people as he did with his bogus "university" I see him making America White Again, deporting millions and destroying lives and families and ruining the lives of children while peddling real estate and cheap steaks like the huckster he is.

The UK may get a chance to change their minds.  The US won't if Trump is elected.  Absent a revolution or a military coup we'll have to ride that train straight down to hell. This is a man, we're told by people close to him, reads Hitler's speeches and admires Goebbels' technique of repeating a lie until it becomes true.

Crooked Trump.  Say it loud. Say it again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Another Brick in the wall.

So what - you expected something different? If it's about guns, you vote no, plain and simple, and no thought required beyond thinking about how badly the NRA will punish you for giving a crap about who wins the war with Islamic State and al Qaeda and the rest of them. You're a Republican, it's what you do.

Sure, a great many proposals have been misguided, ill-informed and even illegal, but keeping guns from suspected enemies of our country is not just a good idea, it's essential and as long as there's due process and an appeal process, the worst it might mean for a prospective firearms purchaser ( or explosives or ammunition ) is a delay. The lives saved may include not only yours and mine, but the miserable ones of the Senators who voted that proposal down yesterday. Hardly anyone voted against shutting down the 4th amendment because we are at war,  why can't we do something that does not challenge the second because of the same war?

The sad thing though, is the way we live in our bubbles, not listening to anything outside of them, not crediting unbiased information coming from the outside, as we would as a member of a cult. I listened to VP Biden last night struggling to remember the formula for kinetic energy you learned in high school and getting it wrong, telling us one infuriatingly more time that Assault rifles use "big bore, high caliber bullets" which are far more deadly, when of course they use smaller, less powerful rounds than other rifles, only more of them. It's part of the definition, but you've heard that too many times from me and if you live in some other bubble than I do, you still won't listen and didn't believe me those times either. If he's in your bubble, you don't question him and anyone knowing more about physics or guns is the devil, not to be believed.

Perhaps you'll believe me when I opine (once again) that all firearms are very dangerous and the danger derives mostly from the person holding one. That's why I support the legislation that recognizes the danger of this amorphous, decentralized, but viciously deadly worldwide enemy. It's not Islamophobia, it's reality and the vast majority of the people they kill, and torture and oppress are Muslims who hate them too.  Background checks are limited in effectiveness, as we've seen from Orlando, and someone may be able to pass all kinds of sanity and competence tests, but harbor a plan to attack Western culture and Western lifestyles.

But if you're in one bubble, belonging to that particular cult, you didn't even read this so I'm not talking to you. If you're in the other bubble, you may want to go on believing in the propaganda thereof and concentrate on one tendentiously defined class of weapons and paying no attention to others quite as deadly or even more so, because any information that comes from any expert of any qualification will be ignored without the same tired old Shibboleth: "Assault weapons! are the worst problem!

Will blocking legal gun sales to would be terrorists stop terrorist attacks? No, it's too easy to have a friend buy one for you like you used to do to buy beer when you were underage, (admit it) but as part of beefing up national security, improving interdepartmental communication, it's a necessary brick in the wall. Not Trumps imaginary Maginot line, but the real wall we need between us and our real enemies.

But don't rant and rave and carry signs - keep calm and call your Senators, your Congressmen. Internet petitions aren't as good as a phone call. If it's true that nearly 90% of us favor blocking sales to terrorists, making an effort to get rid of high capacity magazines - neither of which are forbidden by the 2nd amendment - they need to listen to the one authority higher than the NRA: you and me.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Keep Calm and. . .

No, really, just keep calm. . . please.

"The worst thing about America is GUNS!"  I'm told, and if I disagree, I've been brainwashed by an organization I don't belong to or listen to and have contempt for.  Why? because zealots argue by the numbers the way a salesman is trained: with lists of objections and standard responses but without the yelling and insulting that make it hard to sell insurance or swamp land. When it comes to guns, food, cars, economics, taxation, immigration, religion and a few other subjects dear to the brainwashing trade, it's about avoiding the facts to avoid refutation. "Don't ask questions, just look at the bogeyman!"

 One preempts the calm, rational approach by attacking first. Nebulous and ill defined attacks are best for this purpose.  Sure, guns frighten the hell out of some people and everyone has the right to their fears, but other things may be more dangerous. That's why when I suggest banning the most dangerous feature of any gun, I get "no, only assault weapons, read the script or shut up,"  If you want to see a working definition of "conniption" just say calm and stick to the facts.

Sign here to send a petition to "Help stop the use of bee-toxic pesticides!"  Could we keep a bit more calm because there's no particular evidence that pesticides are causing or contributing to this apparently widespread phenomenon of  hive collapse syndrome, and even if the EPA has the power to ban or eliminate such things if they do exist, it doesn't mean there's any scientific consensus on the etiology of this disease which may not actually be new and appears on more than one continent. There's plenty of activist consensus, but as with the fanatical but unsupportable assertions about Autism spectrum syndrome and vaccines,  it's based on rumor and conjecture and hysteria, just as the previous notion that it was all about cell phones because after all, Post Hoc means Propter Hoc. Certain people prone to see real and imaginary ills to be the product of evil corporations (aren't they all evil?) won't question it though and if you don't, well you're brainwashed. Science?  Just keep banning until the problem goes away.

"I don't need any facts, I just know" said one Solon after I asked him whether a proposed measure had a record of previous successes.  I'm afraid that response is too commonplace when certain, activist-dominated subjects are involved. But what do I know?  I've been brainwashed by the facts and made a fool of by calm reflection. The 'solution' has been an abject failure more than once, but he just knows it will work which is a form of the argument from ignorance.  After all it's a gun control proposal and so it will, ipso facto,  control guns, just as all those "Crime Bills" we were urged to support in the 70's and 80's that made things worse. Or those bills to "untie the hands" of the police that also made things so much worse and the Drug bills that filled our jails with harmless and ordinary people, destroying the lives and families we were supposed to be protecting.  As old Daniel Webster said:
 "the strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many a bad measure." 
The end may justify the means sometimes, but the urgency and fear don't justify all proposals. None the less, if your plan fails, you can always blame it on the appropriate bogeyman to escape the inevitable "told you so."

I'm looking at a list of statistical rankings of fatality risks in our country.  It's in response to the "worst thing" assertion.  Of course as with all such things you have to define terms and I'm taking the liberty of defining worst as the most dangerous, the most likely to kill you and of course Heart disease, stroke and cancer are by far the leading causes of death. Odds are it's curtains for you and me sooner or later, I'm afraid.  It's full of many  interesting observations including that bicycles are enormously more dangerous than motorcycles in terms of how many people are killed on them.

 Assault by firearm?  It's number ten at 1 in 300 and that's terrible at first glance or at second glance, but then as with motorcycle accidents at 1 in 802  and death by drowning and immersion at 1 in 1073, those are averages for the entire population and if you don't go near the water and don't ride a motorcycle these risks don't apply, just as if you don't live in certain neighborhoods and don't get involved in gangs or drugs, your odds of firearm assault may vary - enormously.

Cause for some thought here about apparent risk and actual risk?  Nah. We just know we're right and reflection is weakness and if the group advocates something but I advocate something stronger, I must be a dupe, a stooge of the standard bogeyman. Pick one from the menu.

The overall likelihood of a fatal drug overdose is almost on a par with fatal shooting, but of course neither you nor I is likely to do them, (although I can't be too sure about you) Averages can be hugely misleading and they certainly are when used to frighten people into grasping at straws or laws.  So if I say that chances are something other than guns is gonna gitcha even if you do watch out, it's not because there's no danger from firearms and killers, but it's not the worst and I can prove it. There may be something worse in other senses than guns - say like injustice or the lack of access to medical care or higher education voting rights or legal council or even safe water, for our suburban Detroit friends.

But there is no anti-motorcycle advocacy group. The Motorcycle Haters are far less organized than the Monsanto Haters and of course since hardly anyone is an organic chemist or geneticist, has a degree in biology or agriculture, it's a perfect windmill for the bee saving Quixotes of America to tilt at. Bike haters?  They're around but not nearly so outspoken.  I think they're afraid of us.

As with all things relative to our fear and anger industry, the Worst Thing, as Orwell told us in 1984 is very personal. The worst thing may just be your own fear. It may be something you haven't thought about while being terrified of something else because what you fear is mostly about partisanship and manipulation. It's about preventing calm and objectivity.  It's all about what group has washed your cerebral cortex. It's less about the principles than about the principals. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Recreational Belief

And while I'm on the subject of  dishonest advertising, I saw an article just now claiming that thousands of scientists have proved Einstein wrong - again.  How's that?  Why, although that German immigrant predicted and provided a mathematical basis for gravity waves, he opined that we wouldn't have the technology to detect them directly, which of course we do and we have.  Einstein's theories aren't wrong, the article's title was wrong.

If only this weren't standard procedure in the media. Take the Tesla ascendancy. He invented radio is the trendy thing to say among millennials although others invented it a long time before. In fact James Clerk Maxwell developed the mathematical basis for electromagnetic waves in the late 19th century and Heinrich Hertz demonstrated broadcasting and receiving them in 1885 and Thomas Edison actually received a patent* for a ship to ship radio system, including a quarter wave vertical antenna in that year. He sold it all to Marconi.
Tesla's claim to radio was that Marconi sent a signal across the Atlantic using a Tesla coil which of course he didn't, he used a Ruhmkorff coil which had been used by others, including Hertz to send radio signals.  The courts were simply confused as was the case many times in the history of radio.

Tesla invented AC power distribution including the transformer and alternator and AC motor but actually he didn't. Most of Tesla's "inventions" were thought experiments that never worked because the science was wrong. His dearly held goal was to send electrical power to customers without wires. Didn't work and would have been deadly if tried.

But recreational belief is our national sport.  It's fun to say Edison didn't invent the light bulb because he knew about other efforts that didn't actually work but it's only shifty rhetoric and it all depends on a shifty description of "invent" It just makes you feel so hip to recite such things.  I suppose the Wright brothers could be stripped of their title because they know about Lilienthal or Langley and NASA gets no credit for the moon landing because of Jules Verne. Anyway, if someone invents a working time machine he won't have invented it either, because of  H. G. Wells.

U.S. Patent 465,971 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

And the Home of the Brave.

I'm sure the mourning and weeping and candle lighting will go on for a while and I'm sure the finger pointing, panic mongering and political accusations of guilt will continue apace.

I have to look at how France has reacted after their own, much larger attacks in recent years.  It's been very different I think. From over here, it looks like expressions of solidarity and refusal to be afraid typify the nation we like to joke about and accuse of cowardice.  Paris has just lit up the Eiffel Tower as a token of solidarity with the usually supercilious and superior USA.  Thank you and Vive La France.

We on the other hand have been spending our time both trying to stress that Orlando was a Jihadi attack and furiously denying it. Look not to the murderer's hand, say some. It's all about the guns. It's all because Obama won't say Islamic terrorism, say others. It's only because he used an "assault rifle" said one guy before I blocked him on Facebook. He would not admit that the Glock 17 pistol he carried actually was "military grade" but the rifle wasn't. Handguns are irrelevant apparently, if you're rabid about "assault rifles" but don't really know what that means. Many think they are legal machine guns, others thing the same bullet is more deadly because the rifle has a pistol grip, but neither panic nor politics make for truth or support logic. The first thing I saw this morning was an admonishment that we don't have a constitutional right to shoot 100 people at once.  Thanks for reminding me that murder is illegal but I'd like to see a gun that can do that. We don't have a constitutional right to blow up buildings or set fires in nightclubs either. Meaningless non-sequitur designed to argue for the gun control policy that failed so miserably in this case. Be afraid! We're all in danger!

Where is the "let's stand together" rhetoric? No, it's more like "you can't go out any more" cowardice being hyped up by anti-gun panic brokers and when coupled with "they're going to take away our guns" panic on the other side, we're as funny as a Punch and Judy show to people that wish us harm and destruction.  We're simply not the home of the brave we once were and apparently Europeans still are. From a gun-free America to driverless safety cars to the idea of a locked down walled country I feel surrounded by mewling, trembling, pants-pissing cowards.  None of this bodes well for us remaining as the home of the free either.


I've got to admit it's getting better (Better)
A little better all the time (It can't get more worse)
-the Beatles-

Panic is big business. Hysteria is a moneymaker and the road to riches for those who can inflame and outrage the public.  So of course the persuaders of every persuasion are here to make you think everything is going to hell. Immigrants are going to ruin us, the debt is out of control, all our jobs are going to Mexico and most of all we're all going to be killed. After all you can't go to nightclubs or movie theaters and it's open season on Black children. Gluten will kill you and disease resistant crops will turn you into a wheat stalk and preservatives and processed food?  Oh my God!  This is the worst ever, we're all going to die and all trends point in the direction of Hell. 

All these arguments seem to be the worst when they're not really true or are oversimplified to the point of distortion. The overall trend in violent crime has been down for decades, employment is at record highs and so many things have improved over the last 8 years you'd think someone would notice the dire prognostications of Obama's failure didn't happen, but it's not to the benefit of power that we notice.  Every downward blip is a trend, and an indicator of impending calamity. So obviously we need to stay inside and buy guns before the Obaminator - oh excuse me - Dishonest Hillary takes them away.  We also need to make them disappear with the magic wand of badly written legislation. After all last time we banned "assault weapons" sales went up and numbers increased in a big way.  Lets do it just as badly again.

And by all means let's stay angry. Lets believe these are the last days as they have been for thousands of years now.  Nothing is random, nothing is cyclical, everything is a trend and a downward one. 

The best way to show a trend in a set of data, is to take a small sample. A large sample of mass shootings in the US looks quite a bit more than a series of irregular occurrences with quiescent  periods in between. The previous "worst mass shooting" was in 1927 when the population was a third of today's and falls behind the latest by about 4 deaths. Perhaps toning down the "if this trend continues" rhetoric just a bit might allow some breathing room, but again, that doesn't serve the interests on any side who like the used car salesman, wants you to ACT NOW! 

Act now before we discuss how we go about reducing these things.  Is it one problem of several? How much can we expect from gun regulations, how much increased surveillance and enforcement will we accept.  Do we deprive people of constitutional rights if they are under suspicion?  Do we accept racial profiling? We've already set aside the 4th amendment and perhaps illegally. Do we set aside the 2nd without due process because we are afraid?  this is more than a rampage shooting, more than an act of terrorism, this is an existential crisis for Democracy in America and certainly we need to handle it by pumping up the volume, hyping up the sloppy rhetoric, fuzzying up the logic and making it personal. The craziness, the evil - it's all on their side, but don't question our assertions, our shibboleths or our logic.  Now all together POINT THOSE FINGERS.